Chinese state media labels Sen. Tom Cotton 'political rubbish' over Olympic boycott call

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Sen. Tom Cotton’s call for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing drew a sharp response from Chinese state-run media on Friday, further highlighting tensions between the two nations.

“In my view, this senator is a political rubbish,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of state-run Global Times, wrote on Twitter, a platform that is banned in China. “He lies, is bellicose, lacks the least self-awareness. Hope in the US Congress, there isn’t only stink of rubbish like him.”

The tweet included a video of a press conference earlier this week in which Cotton, R-Ark., called for a total boycott of the upcoming Olympics. Cotton spoke amid growing calls among lawmakers and activists to hold China accountable for human rights abuses, including mistreatment of Uighurs held in detention camps in Xinjiang.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images)

Cotton cited China’s human rights record, as well as concerns regarding the safety of U.S. athletes. He argued authorities would be unable to fully protect American athletes from surveillance.

President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“For these reasons — the safety and security of our own athletes and China’s crimes against the world, we should launch a complete and total boycott of China’s genocide Olympics,” Cotton said. 

“I regret that this would prevent about 300 of America’s world-class athletes from competing in the Olympics. I sympathize with them. However, they have been failed by this administration, who months ago, months ago, could have worked with our allies to develop a plan to conduct these games in another country,” he added.

The Chinese and Olympic flags flutter at the headquarters of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China November 12, 2021.

The Chinese and Olympic flags flutter at the headquarters of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China November 12, 2021. ((REUTERS/Thomas Suen/File Photo))

President Biden said his administration was “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, which would allow U.S. athletes to compete.

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Cotton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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